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Lei Wang, Xiaojun Yuan, Mingfang Ting, and Cuihua Li

Abstract

Recent Arctic sea ice changes have important societal and economic impacts and may lead to adverse effects on the Arctic ecosystem, weather, and climate. Understanding the predictability of Arctic sea ice melting is thus an important task. A vector autoregressive (VAR) model is evaluated for predicting the summertime (May–September) daily Arctic sea ice concentration on the intraseasonal time scale, using only the daily sea ice data and without direct information of the atmosphere and ocean. The intraseasonal forecast skill of Arctic sea ice is assessed using the 1979–2012 satellite data. The cross-validated forecast skill of the VAR model is found to be superior to both the anomaly persistence and damped anomaly persistence at lead times of ~20–60 days, especially over northern Eurasian marginal seas and the Beaufort Sea. The daily forecast of ice concentration also leads to predictions of ice-free dates and September mean sea ice extent. In addition to capturing the general seasonal melt of sea ice, the model is also able to capture the interannual variability of the melting, from partial melt of the marginal sea ice in the beginning of the period to almost a complete melt in the later years. While the detailed mechanism leading to the high predictability of intraseasonal sea ice concentration needs to be further examined, the study reveals for the first time that Arctic sea ice can be predicted statistically with reasonable skill at the intraseasonal time scales given the small signal-to-noise ratio of daily data.

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